quarta-feira, 25 de maio de 2016

Greek debt agreement reached

Por José Manuel Fernandes, Publisher

Boa noite!
Foi mais uma longa maratona do Eurogrupo, que entrou pela noite dentro com momentos em que se comentava se Euclid Tsakalotos (na foto a falar com Dijsselbloem) não teria de aguentar uma negociação tão longa como a enfrentada por Alexis Tsipras há um ano, mas o fumo branco lá apareceu já de madrugada, em boa parte porque foi necessário telefonar a Christine Lagarde, a directora-geral do FMI e esta estava no Cazakistão e foi muito difícil estabelecer a ligação. No final o FMI acabou por ceder muito na sua exigência de reestruturação da dívida grega, já que tudo ficou adiado para 2018 e só se os gregos cumprirem mais alguns condicionalismos. Poul Thomsen, diretor do departamento europeu do FMI, a reconhecer que, “do lado do FMI, fizemos uma enorme cedência”. O que significa que Wolfgang Schäuble levou novamente a melhor.
A verdade porém é que, desta vez, poucos foram os que deram real atenção a mais esta longa e tensa reunião em Bruxelas, e em boa parte percebe-se porquê: A Grécia é um caos. “E a Europa está pelos cabelos”, como disse ao Observador o antecessor de Varoufakis, Gikas Hardouvelis, numa entrevista cuja leitura considero indispensável. O ministro das Finanças do último governo da Nova Democracia faz um relato muito cru do que se passa no país, um país a que verdadeiramente deixámos de prestar atenção apesar da multiplicação das medidas de austeridade e das greves gerais. Primeiro explica que o que se passa no país é consequência do “comportamento errático que [o governo de Tsipras] teve na primeira metade de 2015 e pela atitude de confrontação [de Varoufakis]”. Depois conta como a economia voltou a afundar, pois o que se fez foi que, “Em vez de se cortar na despesa e nos salários da função pública, e fechar empresas que não acrescentam qualquer valor social, [os líderes europeus] deixaram o governo seguir pela via dos aumentos de impostos, o que cria um enorme desincentivo para as pessoas trabalharem.” Sendo que fora da Grécia isso já não parece incomodar ninguém:
A Europa, agora, parece que já não quer saber. Já não há contágio nos mercados financeiros, a Grécia está isolada. Muita Europa está farta até aos cabelos de ouvir falar da Grécia, dos gregos, dos políticos gregos, da economia grega… Não querem saber — é como se dissessem: “Façam o que quiserem, não queremos saber se vão promover o crescimento da economia, se fazem o ajustamento todo pela via dos aumentos de impostos, força… Querem criar mais uma recessão? Força… A escolha é vossa. O problema é vosso. Deixem-nos em paz“.
Este leitura não é muito diferente da de Alexis Papachelas, colunista do diário grego Ekathimerini que, hoje mesmo, em An insane country, nota que “Outside of Greece, no one cares anymore whether the country is governed by the right or the left. They just want to get on with their business.” E depois acrescenta: “Things that should have been done, irrespective of who’s in charge, will be done, though at a cost. Political time in the bailouts era is running at a vertiginous speed and the beast keeps “swallowing” prime ministers and administrations. A leftist government is carrying out the most right-wing policies anyone could imagine, overturning the entire post-dictatorship pattern. History is moving along, albeit in an insane manner. But it is moving on and that is what matters most.”
É como se se vivesse numa espécie de ficção de que tudo corre conforme o previsto, e é exactamente essa a perspectiva do editorial do Wall Street Journal, The Greek Fiction. Onde escreve, depois de descrever a futilidade do que se discute entre a Europa e o FMI sobre o que deve ser feito por Atenas: “Mr. Tsipras’s statist ideology is as hostile as ever to the supply-side reforms Greece needs, and both the IMF and other creditors seem to be giving up hope that any other Greek politician could enact such reforms. Which means Greece’s crisis will drag on no matter what happens next with Greece’s debts.”
(Já agora, para conhecer melhor os pormenores do acordo do Eurogrupo há um bom descodificador do que passou na mesma edição europeia do Wall Street Journal, The Short Answer: How Greece Got Another Debt Deal. Vejamos uma das suas perguntas e respostas:
Why Did the IMF Give So Much Ground?
Despite the IMF staff’s deep skepticism about Greece’s solvency and the math of the bailout plan, they ultimately answer to the IMF board, where Western governments such as Germany and the U.S. have a voting majority.
Behind the scenes, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pressed in recent weeks for the IMF to announce that it will rejoin the bailout, so that she can get the Greek issue off the table quickly without controversy in Germany.
Ms. Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama are eager to avoid a new drama over Greece when the European Union is looking unusually politically fragile given the refugee crisis, the rise of populist parties across the bloc, and the U.K.’s referendum on whether to leave or remain an EU member.
Under pressure from its dominant board members, the IMF had little choice but to accept Germany’s preferred formula on Greek debt.)
A análise do outro grande jornal económico europeu, o Financial Times, ajuda, em Messy Greek debt deal leaves key questions unanswered, a perceber o que foram as cedências alemãs, que também as houve: “For Germany too, the deal amounted to a trade-off. Wolfgang Schäuble, German finance minister, met his two main red lines: no haircuts and no Bundestag votes before the German federal elections in 2018. But to secure the IMF’s political participation, he made a concession: an implicit commitment to meeting a DSA that will be hard to retreat from. And language was softened on the requirement for Greece to meet a 3.5 per cent budget surplus target for at least the next 10 years; this would now be reviewed in 2018.”
De resto este jornal acrescenta um delicioso pormenor sobre a forma como as negociações decorreram, já que boa parte do tempo foi consumido em encontros bilaterais fora da sala do Eurogrupo entre Dijsselbloem, Schäuble e Poul Thomsen: “For the others present, the tedium gradually turned to farce as they passed the midnight hour. The strut of “Zorba’s dance” rang out across the room from one mischievous official’s iPad, only to be clapped on by colleagues. The deal came soon after, but most negotiators knew they would be back for another debt dance soon enough.”
A fechar a minha selecção de hoje, a análise de Xavier Vidal-Folch no El Pais, Pasar del “no pasarán” al “cosa hecha”, onde nos fala da “esquizofrenia política de la UE, el FMI y Atenas”. E onde procura explicar o contorcionismo de cada um dos protagonistas, assim enquadrado: “Cuando el severo ministro alemán de Finanzas, herr Nein, anuncia paz, es que la paz es cosa hecha. Aunque se deba a la urgencia de no estropear su agenda electoral, a la de no enrarecer más la cuestión británica presentando a Europa como madrastra, o a ambas. Además del calendario, otras fuerzas empujan al acuerdo. Como la esquizofrenia —o contradicciones internas— de cada actor, que les dificulta mantener posiciones.”
E por hoje é tudo. Reencontramo-nos na sexta-feira, que o Macroscópio não faz ponte. Aproveitem o feriado para descansarem e, também, para porem as leituras (algumas) em dia.

Greek debt agreement reached
Eurogroup to release €7.5 billion of bailout cash in June and more after the summer.
By HORTENSE GOULARD AND CHARLES LEE 5/25/16, 3:46 AM CET Updated 5/25/16, 5:09 AM CET

Eurozone finance ministers struck a deal that will unblock the next round of international funding for debt-strapped Greece after all-night negotiations in Brussels that ended in the early hours of Wednesday.

Dutch Economy Minister and President of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem declared at a press conference that this was “very good news — it shows that the [bailout] program is fully back on track.”

The Eurogroup of ministers representing the 19 countries that use the euro agreed to release €7.5 billion in a new tranche of its €86 billion rescue package for Greece in June, followed by another €2.8 billion after the summer — provided that Athens meet all of the creditors’ preconditions.

Without these fund injections, Greece will default on its debt payment, potentially reopening the possibility of its withdrawal from the eurozone and reigniting doubts about the future of Europe’s common currency.

In return for the fresh funds, Greece promised to keep its primary budget surplus at 3.5 percent of GDP until 2018 by implementing various reforms related to public pensions, personal income tax, and public-sector wages. But if the Greek government misses the agreed target, a package of contingency measures will kick in automatically to bring the budget back in line with the bailout requirements.

Over the past few weeks, the Greek parliament adopted a series of legislation, including on pension reform and the establishment of a privatization fund. The hugely unpopular moves with the Greek public went a long way to convince the country’s creditors that Athens might be finally getting serious about undertaking difficult reforms and smoothed the way for today’s agreement.

On the most contentious topic of debt relief, the Eurogroup has agreed to consider it on a step-by-step basis “as necessary.” Based on periodic “debt sustainability analysis,” the creditors will take progressively increasing number of technical measures to ensure that Greece will not be overwhelmed by its debt payment obligations. Partial debt forgiveness — or a “haircut” — was quickly ruled out.

Although all this was less than an unequivocal embrace of debt relief, it marked a departure from the earlier insistence by Germany — Athens’ biggest creditor — that no concession would be made on how much debt Greece must ultimately pay back.

Crucially, the agreed deal will keep the International Monetary Fund on board the rescue program. The Washington-based fund had threatened to pull out unless Greece’s eurozone creditors agreed to relieve its debt burden, which it considered to be unsustainable. The IMF’s departure would have endangered the continued participation of several creditor countries in the Greek bailout, as they deemed its expertise and rigorous follow-through as indispensable to the success of the rescue program.

The IMF’s board is now expected to approve the release of additional funds of its own by the end of 2016. Still, Poul Thomsen, the organization’s representative at the Eurogroup meeting, let it be known at the press conference he was disappointed that Greece’s creditors did not agreed to any upfront debt relief. The IMF last week had called for a moratorium on Greek debt payment until 2040.


Hortense Goulard and Charles Lee  

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